BYU Law Welcomes Judge Nelson, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Judge Ryan D. Nelson (‘99) was recently confirmed as a Circuit Judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was invited to BYU Law to speak to students about his legal career. Dean Gordon Smith, who welcomed Judge Nelson, explained that this visit was organized “because we believe that it is important for students to hear firsthand the experiences that BYU Law graduates have as judges and practitioners of the law.”

During his visit, Judge Nelson emphasized the importance of public service to students. Although he started in the private sector, a series of career decisions moved Judge Nelson towards public service: “There was a period of time in which I took four new jobs—each one paid less than the one before! Some people told me that I was moving in the wrong direction, but as I moved toward public service, I knew I was making the right decision.”

The inherent value of public service, Judge Nelson remarked, should make it a goal for all law students, regardless of career goals or legal specialization. “Find a way to be in public service,” he said. “Regardless of what you end up doing with your law degree, take an opportunity to do government or public service.”


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